Health impact and cost-effectiveness of a private sector bed net distribution: Experimental evidence from Zambia

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Abstract

Abstract. Background: Relatively few programmes have attempted to actively engage the private sector in national malaria control efforts. This paper evaluates the health impact of a large-scale distribution of insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) conducted in partnership with a Zambian agribusiness, and its cost-effectiveness from the perspective of the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP). Methods. The study was designed as a cluster-randomized controlled trial. A list of 81,597 cotton farmers was obtained from Dunavant, a contract farming company in Zambia's cotton sector, in December 2010. 39,963 (49%) were randomly selected to obtain one ITN each. Follow-up interviews were conducted with 438 farmers in the treatment and 458 farmers in the control group in June and July 2011. Treatment and control households were compared with respect to bed net ownership, bed net usage, self-reported fever, and self-reported confirmed malaria. Cost data was collected throughout the programme. Results: The distribution effectively reached target beneficiaries, with approximately 95% of households in the treatment group reporting that they had received an ITN through the programme. The average increase in the fraction of household members sleeping under an ITN the night prior to the interview was 14.6 percentage points (p-value <0.001). Treatment was associated with a 42 percent reduction in the odds of self-reported fever (p-value <0.001) and with a 49 percent reduction in the odds of self-reported malaria (p-value 0.002). This was accomplished at a cost of approximately five US$ per ITN to Zambia's NMCP. Conclusions: The results illustrate that existing private sector networks can efficiently control malaria in remote rural regions. The intra-household allocation of ITNs distributed through this channel was comparable to that of ITNs received from other sources, and the health impact remained substantial. © 2013 Sedlmayr et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

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Sedlmayr, R., Fink, G., Miller, J. M., Earle, D., & Steketee, R. W. (2013). Health impact and cost-effectiveness of a private sector bed net distribution: Experimental evidence from Zambia. Malaria Journal, 12(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2875-12-102

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